Gayla Pedersen taught the class, and took everyone out to the beach near Lake Gertrude at Fort Abercrombie.
Pedersen told the class that all of the seaweed around Kodiak is safe to eat. The only exception is bull kelp, which is still safe to eat, but has a gas inside the bulb that can cause stomach pains, although it is not deadly. She added that seaweed provides all the trace minerals that the human body needs.
When harvesting seaweed, only eat seaweed that has a “holdfast,” which means it’s attached to a rock, Pedersen explained. Seaweed that’s been tossed onto the beach by waves shouldn’t be eaten except in an emergency.
“You never know whether a dog or a bear or some animal has gotten into it,” Pedersen said.
Pedersen’s favorite type of seaweed is bladderwrack, which has small greenish or brownish air pockets and has a black holdfast. It can be eaten raw, but Pedersen often dries it.
Sea lettuce, the thin green leafy type, not only can be eaten, but can also be used on sunburns.
“You can put it right on your sunburns, and its got neutralizing effects,” Pedersen said.
Nori, the seaweed often used to wrap sushi, can also be found around Kodiak. It is the red strands that are attached to some of the bull kelp, Pedersen said.
Ribbon kelp, which looks exactly like its name, Pedersen will often eat raw, and she once deep-fried it to make chips.
She also often dries seaweed in a dehydrator. Some of it she’ll snack on. She’s especially fond of dried bladderwrack, which is then crunchy with a nice texture when eaten, she said.
Once she grinds the seaweed into powder it can be added to all kinds of food, or sprinkled in place of salt in order to get minerals.
“That’s mainly because of texture,” Pedersen said. “Some of the seaweeds can get extremely tough later on throughout the year and some of the seaweed only grows early in the season.”
Pedersen offered the following tips and things to remember when harvesting seaweed:
• No seaweeds are poisonous, except for the gas in the bull kelp.
• Seaweed preference is a matter of the taste and texture so just try different kinds and find out what you like.
• Always collect from a holdfast on the rocks.
• The best time to collect seaweed is in the spring and early summer.
• Harvest responsibly. Don’t take what you won’t use.
Contact Julie Herrmann at firstname.lastname@example.org.